This Monday, August 4, Toronto and the GTA will be treated to one of the brightest and longest International Space Station flybys ever seen from our area. What’s more, the flyby time is perfect for many people to see it – set to start just after 10:01 PM on a warm August night, and end at 10:08 PM. The ISS will be visible for just over six minutes, and will pass directly overhead.
Thanks to its relative position to us and the Sun, the station will be appear brighter than Sirius – the brightest star in the sky - and many people will probably mistake it for a slow-moving plane. In astronomical measure of brightness, the “apparent magnitude” of the ISS when it will be directly overhead will reach -3.4 (Sirius is -1.46 - the lower the number, the brighter something appears).
ISS position in Toronto sky on August 4 (click to enlarge).
The station will first appear from south-west (look to the left of the Moon) at around 22:01, and one minute later it will be just to the left of Mars (the reddish dot, may not be visible at all due to clouds/light pollution). By 22:05, the station will be nearly directly overhead at 88 degrees (90 degrees is directly overhead, 0 degrees is the horizon), and by 22:08 it will set below north-eastern horizon.
Photo of ISS taken from Earth with a small telescope (from here)
Photo of ISS take from Space
This will be a great opportunity to get out the binoculars, and you may actually see the H-shaped outline of the station (formed by its solar panels that are reflecting the sunlight back to us).
It is also a good time for photographers to take photos of ISS trails!! Few examples are below (found on Google Images). If you take some, please send them over, I’ll post them here!
ISS over Milky Way (photo credit http://drewbuckleyphotography.com/)